Orbit Beyond Ends NASA Contract to Land Spacecraft on Moon

Orbit Beyond of Edison, New Jersey, has proposed to fly as many as four payloads to a lava plain in one of the Moon’s craters. (Credit: Orbit Beyond)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Citing “internal corporate challenges”, Orbit Beyond has pulled out of a $97 million contract with NASA to land a spacecraft on the moon in July 2021.

“Orbit Beyond, Inc., has informed NASA of internal corporate challenges that will prevent the timely completion of its awarded task order,” the space agency said in a press release.

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GLXP Update: TeamIndus Announces Launch Contract

Lunar rover (Credit: TeamIndus)
Lunar rover (Credit: TeamIndus)

TeamIndus, the only Indian team in the Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP), has announced a contract with the ISRO space agency to fly its lunar rover aboard a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) next year.

The team is hoping to win the $20 million first prize for the first privately-built rover on the moon. The vehicle will need to travel 500 meters across the surface and beam back high-definition video to Earth. The competition also has a $5 million second prize.

TeamIndus officials said the ISRO contract has been verified by the X Prize Foundation, which runs the competition. Four other teams have announced launch contracts: Moon Express, PTScientists, SpaceIL and Synergy Moon. The foundation has verified the contracts for all of these teams except for PTScientists, which announced its agreement earlier this week.

The foundation set a deadline for the end of this year for competition’s 16 teams to have their launch contracts verified. Any teams without launch agreements will be dropped from competition.

TeamIndus said it needs to raise $65 million to pay for the launch and the mission. It is in negotiations with other teams without rides to the moon to carry their rovers to the surface.

The team’s chances of winning GLXP money will depend upon the competition extending its deadline for winning the prize beyond Dec. 31, 2017. The launch is not scheduled until Dec. 28. The spacecraft will then take 21 days to spiral out to the moon and land there.

The other issue is that launch schedules are notoriously unreliable. ISRO is no exception. It’s a pretty big bet to except the agency to launch on time. The schedule also gives TeamIndus no room for delays on hardware that isn’t even built and tested yet.

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GLXP Update: TeamIndus Announces Lab2Moon Global Youth Challenge

The moon rising over Half Moon Bay, California on Halloween 2009. (Credit: Douglas Messier)
The moon rising over Half Moon Bay, California on Halloween 2009. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

BANGALORE, India (TeamIndus PR) — TeamIndus, an Indian aerospace startup and one of the front-runners for the Google Lunar XPRIZE, today announced an international jury for Lab2Moon, a competition to challenge the brightest young minds globally to think beyond our planet and create an experiment to fly on board the TeamIndus spacecraft to the Moon in 2017.

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